Color has always intrigued me, mostly because of the dramatic effect it can have on how people feel. There are always elements of design that can make something look either beautiful or messy, but color is one element that can change from culture to culture or person to person. After reading Unit 4 of Graphic Design School, I was reminded of a few ideas relating to this concept. For example, the color red is viewed as cautionary in most western cultures, but is associated with good luck in China. Likewise, black is usually the color of mourning in the west, but represented by the color white in India and China. Another important aspect of using color when designing, is remembering what the hue, saturation, and value can do to not only affect the mood of your piece, but the readability and flow. For example, two complementary colors of similar hue next to each other may create too much of a “vibrating edge” which is unpleasant to the eye. However, high contrast between colors (the differentiation between two or more elements) can increase the legibility. Layering different values of colors can also make for interesting textures and can oftentimes help the relationship between color and your typography/image to better suit your composition. (Graphic Design School. By: Dabner, Stweart, and Zempol)
When reading this unit from Dabner, Stewart, and Zempol’s Graphic Design School, most of the information had seemed familiar from a color theory class I took earlier this year. However, one idea that I found unfamiliar was the fact that cooler colors (blues and greens) can seem further away in a composition that also includes warm colors, since those will appear to be in the foreground. In a blog written by Steven Bradley, he comments further on this phenomenon and suggests ways to use color in order to enhance your designs. Because the warmer colors tend to advance, it is useful to use those in the foreground of your images, and the cooler colors for creating depth in the background. Bradley uses a Van Gogh painting to demonstrate how the use of color alone can dramatically affect the desirable depth in an image. Though it may seem obvious to use blue in the sky, and brown or red in the earth tones of a landscape, you would be surprised what bringing this method into your own abstract or even type designs can accomplish. Keep in mind, as Bradley states in his blog, that darker colors carry more visual weight and may be seen first, but that highly saturated colors attract a lot of attention, and are perceived as energetic.